Screening applicants is the first line of defence in avoiding bad tenants. But, not every property manager properly performs this critical step about half of the landlords don’t check for criminal background or contact past landlords.
While property management software can assist with screening, landlords need to know how to identify bad tenants who can negatively impact a business by not paying rent, forcing the eviction process or worse.
Tenant problems plague landlords every day. However, reducing the rent to maintain good tenants and evicting problem tenants may not be the best courses of action.
While lower rents affect a landlord’s profitability, evictions are also expensive and can cost a landlord time, money, and resource to conduct. In addition to the basic turnover expenses such as marketing, lost rent, new paint, and appliance repairs, attorneys’ fees for evicting a tenant can be outrageous. Also, a tenant may vent his or her anger by purposefully damaging the property.
Whether you’ve been a landlord for much of your life or you’re preparing to rent out your very first property, it is important to understand that you may need to go through the eviction process at some point during your career. Even if you’re a good landlord and do your best to build positive relationships with your tenants, in some cases, relationships simply sour. But rather than immediately issuing an eviction notice, you may want to try any one of a number of time-tested tips to deal with common tenant problems.
In this crazy world someone decided to make a profession out of being a “bad tenant”, and like all crazy ideas, it caught on. These “professional bad tenants” are ruthless as they are ugly. They go from property to property without paying any rent, and they successfully do it for a living, leaving behind a trail of innocent (granted, and some times not-so-innocent) landlords in debt. Looking for dual occupancy? Look no further! MJS Construction Group has you covered.
Unfortunately, this is becoming common practice, and these professionals seem to be getting away with it. How do they do it? These professionals have become all too familiar with the legal system and know every trick in the book. Every time a landlord attempts to evict them, they appeal with various excuses, E.g. I didn’t pay rent because the property was in bad condition.
The problem is, every time a tenant appeals eviction, the process of eviction is lengthened because the court needs to look into the issue before being able to dismiss it. The claims usually get dismissed because they’re fictional, but by the time each appeal goes to court, months and months pass, leaving the landlord severely out of pocket while the tenant remains. The system isn’t perfect, but it is what it is, unfortunately.
Kinds of Bad Tenants
Rarely pay rent on time
Paying rent on time is essential to be a good renter. Bad tenants won’t prioritize regular rent payments as a critical piece of the landlord-tenant relationship. Making on-time rent payments is one of the first and most important tasks for which a renter is responsible.
By paying late, not only are you risking fines and even eviction over time, but you’re likely placing a financial burden on your landlord. He uses the fees from your rent to cover important costs like maintenance and mortgage payments.
To take the hassle out of remembering to deliver or mail your rent, talk to your landlord about scheduling online payments. If you find yourself in a tough situation and are unable to pay rent due to sickness, work issues or other emergencies, talk to your landlord before your rent payment is due. Proper communication is key, and your landlord can’t help you if you aren’t honest about your situation.
Treat the property poorly
Nightmare tenants will trash a property with no regard to the damage they cause – both to the property and their rental history. Growing up, your parents probably taught you to treat others’ belongings like you would your own. It’s still true, especially as a renter! Sure, a rental may not be your permanent home, but remember that your treatment of the property has lasting effects for your landlord and their future tenants.
Normal wear and tear are to be expected, but significant damage to a property you’re renting is less than ideal. Accidents happen, and if they do, be sure to notify your landlord right away so you can start to fix the problem together. This will not only ensure a good relationship with your landlord but will also ensure that you get your full security deposit back when you move.
Avoid reporting maintenance issues until they’re unbearable
You may think you’re doing your landlord a favour by not bothering them or you may think that the issue is small and not worth mentioning, but even a small leak can turn into a big and expensive problem down the road.
You’re probably not intentionally acting like a nightmare tenant in these situations, but a great tenant will notify the landlord anytime they notice a maintenance issue that needs attention. Some landlords even provide easy options for tenants to submit maintenance requests online, which can be easily tracked and monitored until the issue is resolved.
Act unreasonable or high maintenance
While a good landlord or property manager will value good communication from their tenants, a renter who constantly complains or requires special attention can quickly become a landlord’s worst nightmare.
In most cases, you’re probably not your landlord’s only tenant or only priority. Be courteous of this and try to resolve problems on your own to the best of your ability. Refer to your lease to review the terms and clarify what types of issues are your responsibility and which are the responsibility of your landlord.
If you know that the issue will require your landlord’s attention, be sure to notify them as soon as possible, so they have time to work the maintenance into their schedule.
Host secret roommates (furry or human)
Nightmare tenants will bring in new long-term guests, even if it technically breaks their lease. Remember, your lease agreement is designed to protect both the landlord and you as a tenant.
Whether your extra roommate is your significant other or your newest furry friend, having an uninvited guest stay permanently without your landlord’s permission can cost you your security deposit – or your rental.
If you’re in a situation where you’re considering a new roommate, ask your landlord if they would allow a new person if they pass the same tenant screening you went through and would join the lease agreement.
Refuse to clean regularly
You don’t have to be a “neat freak” or obsess over the cleanliness of your rental daily, but you should consider it your home, after all. The more often you make a point to deep clean all the nooks and crannies of your rental, the more likely you are to get your full security deposit back.
If your unit is filled to the brim with old takeout containers, dirty dishes, and sticky surfaces, you might be causing larger property issues. Your landlord won’t thank you for layers of built-up grime and grease, and you’re likely to be housing a few creepy-crawly roommates.
Make it a point to do daily and weekly cleaning chores, as well as a deep clean now and then. You’ll make things easier on everyone involved.
Bounce from lease to lease
It will always be true that life circumstances change, and one of the major benefits of renting is the flexibility to move when your lease ends. However, a true dream tenant will stay at a property for a long time if they’re happy with the way things are going.
Managing tenant turnover is expensive and time consuming for a landlord. Moving fees and the effort involved in finding a new rental is expensive and time consuming for renters. In a perfect world, you would avoid being a nightmare tenant, so your landlord would want to incentivize you to stay longer. Renters who bounce from rental to rental and never stay in one place for very long (especially if they’re ending a lease early) could affect their future rental applications by showing a lack of commitment.
Ignore renter responsibilities
While most maintenance responsibilities will probably fall on your landlord, tenants may be required to maintain some items such as appliances, lawn care, air filters or smoke detector batteries. Your maintenance responsibilities should be outlined in your lease agreement and define which party is responsible for which tasks.
Nightmare tenants constantly forget or outright ignore these usually simple tasks, and this can cause measurable damage to the property – not to mention damage to your relationship with your landlord.
Fudge on lease terms
Lease agreements are around for a reason, and when you sign your name, you agree to all the terms outlined in the lease. If there are certain terms or rules that you’re unclear about or disagree with, bring them up with your landlord before you sign the lease.
A standard lease will prohibit any illegal activity or any behaviour that threatens the safety of the community. They may also prohibit pets or obnoxious noise that will disturb other renters’ rights to a quiet environment.
Nightmare tenants have no regard for these terms, and often ignore the rules put in place. Lease violations can constitute legitimate grounds for eviction, which is expensive and stressful for everyone.
Refuse to get renters insurance
Renters insurance is surprisingly inexpensive and is well, well worth it. It not only protects your valuables, but it also protects your landlord’s property should you damage the rental due to negligence. A great tenant will already have renter’s insurance, so the landlord isn’t stuck with the bill due to a tenant being unable to cover the cost of damage to the property.
Your actions as a renter will mean the difference between a wonderful and easy rental experience, and a black mark on your rental history. Avoid these nightmare tenant traits, and you will set yourself up for smooth sailing during this lease term and beyond.
Other Common Tenant Problems
No one wants to live in a home with rodents or roaches running around. If you routinely avoid hiring an exterminator, you probably experience significantly high turnover rates in your properties.
Duplexes, apartments, and single-family homes can develop bug problems when either the resident or his or her neighbour brings in these critters. If you find that one unit is contaminated with bedbugs, it won’t be long before all of the units are. Rather than let the situation spiral out of control, contact an exterminator to handle the issue as soon as you hear or receive a complaint.
If you know that the roof in your building leaks, fix it immediately – and never try to rent the property to an unsuspecting tenant. Tenants have every legal right to a safe home, and the longer you leave the roof leaking, the more damage and retribution you face.
Even the smallest leaks can lead to mildew and mould, cause water damage, or even make the roof cave in. By law, tenants can place their rent money in an escrow account and withhold it from you until the roof is properly fixed, so it’s best to address these issues before you schedule a showing.
If your lease contract states that the property comes with appliances, you’re legally responsible for the maintenance and repair of those appliances unless you state otherwise. For instance, you can include a clause that affirms the property does come with a used washer and dryer, but replacement is the responsibility of the tenant. Still, if you promise appliances and a renter moves in to the unit to discover, for example, that the stove is broken, you need to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
While buying a new appliance is far from cheap, doing so before a renter moves in can save you a lot of hardships and complaints. Keep in mind that tenants can pursue a claim against you or file their rent payments with the court or in a separate saving account until you repair or replace the broken appliances.
Security Deposit Issues
If one of your tenants mistakenly believes that he or she can use the security deposit to pay for the last month’s rent, you might have some problems. The confusion happens when a tenant wrongfully believes that he or she isn’t required to pay the last month’s rent and that the landlord can use the security deposit instead. While the civil code states that a landlord can withhold the security deposit to cover the last month’s rent or any unpaid rent during the lease, if a tenant fails to pay anything, the security deposit may not be enough to cover the last month plus expenses.
If you have received an intent to vacate notice from a tenant but are still shy one month’s rent, you can start the eviction process if you feel that this is the best resolution. Some landlords make it clear in the lease that the security deposit is not to be used as a replacement for last month’s rent. You can also collect first’s month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a third payment to be used as a security deposit. However, if you choose this route, make certain that it is clear in the lease and that the tenant fully understands before he or she signs the document. Check out our range of dual occupancy builder for your dream house.
Violation of Rules
A written contract sets forth the conditions of your lease, including whether a tenant can sublease part of the space to another renter, or whether a tenant has your permission to keep pets on the property. If the residence is in a homeowner’s association, the tenant might be responsible for the maintenance of the landscape and exterior building.
Whether you have witnessed a violation of the lease yourself or word has come to you through a third party, it’s important to notify the tenant in writing of the violation and request that he or she corrects the problem or otherwise face an eviction. For example, if your lease specifically states that no pets are allowed, and you find evidence of a dog, send a letter to the tenant informing that he or she is breaking the terms of the lease and that the animal must be removed from the property by a certain date.
Let the tenant know that if he or she does not re-home the animal, then eviction is possible. Alternatively, depending on the situation, you can make an amendment to the lease by requesting an additional deposit and increased monthly rent to pay for the possibility of future damages caused by the animal. If the tenant does not comply with your request by the time you conduct an inspection, you can decide whether an eviction is the appropriate course of action.
Ways To Avoid A Bad Tenant
A thorough tenant screening process is key to avoiding all bad tenants — not just those noted above.
Beyond that, though, you should also:
- Follow up. Don’t just ask the applicant for the employer and past landlord contact info and not use it. Call those sources up and get more details on the potential tenant before moving forward.
- Be patient. Take your time when looking for a new tenant. Rushing to fill a vacancy might make you less thorough in evaluating a renter (or just less demanding).
- Have an iron-clad lease. Cover all the details, have the rental agreement reviewed by an attorney and leave no room for error or misinterpretation.
- Do a thorough property inspection. Be diligent when inspecting a rental unit before move-in, and ask your tenants to do the same. Make sure they know they’re responsible for anything that’s damaged once they move out.
- Stay in touch. Keep in communication with your tenants throughout their lease. Stop by the property occasionally, too, to add some accountability.
Finally, have an attorney on hand just in case. You never know when a tenant relationship could turn sour, and having a legal professional, you can turn to could help you avoid costly litigation or eviction.
Unfortunately, in some extreme cases, eviction may be the only option. Sometimes, a landlord finds that giving a tenant one chance turns into two chances, which then results in a third chance, and so on. This wastes time causes aggravation and can result in the loss of rent income. MJS Construction Group has the best range of dual occupancy builder services to help you create your dream house.
If you believe that you are going to find yourself in court in the near future – or even if you want to protect yourself, just in case – it’s always a good idea to keep detailed logs of tenant problems, as you are required to prove cause for eviction in court. Many landlords underestimate the need for paper trails when dealing with problem tenants, erroneously believing that verbal agreements hold up in court. However, this process can be a lot easier if you document every interaction you have with your problem tenants.